Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Talk To Me

Note: The photos on Today's Blog have no relation to the content of the blog. I just want to show more of my trip East!

Runners, and the general public, need to be able to communicate. Communication is essential to enable meaningful relationships with others and also help us to build professional relationships. In many ways the key to a successful life is effective communication. For a runner communication is key for many reasons...

Doc: "Why are you here today?"
Runner: "My leg hurts."
Doc: "I need more information."
Runner: "My leg hurts when I run."
Doc: "Where?"
Runner: "On the Seawall or sometimes on the sidewalk, I really like running in the Endowment Lands!"
Doc: "Where on your body?????"
Runner: "I already told you, MY LEG HURTS!!!!"

This is an example of poor communication. As runners we need to have an intimate knowledge and understanding of our bodies, and we need to be able to communicate this to others. When I go to the doctor or physio due to pain or injury I always try to describe the issue into the most detail possible. As I do not have a current injury I will use an old one.
"I have a shooting pain when I run. The pain is on the left side originating on the outside of my hip and radiating to my asshole. Normally the pain starts when I am beginning to run until I get warmed up. There is a constant dull pain which is present throughout the duration of my stride except for toe off and when I plant my heel. Then there is a shock of pain that is very uncomfortable. Imagine someone shot a copper arrow through your hip that came out your asshole. It always hurts except when you toe off and plant your foot. At this point someone sends an electric shock through the copper arrow that comes out your asshole. That describes my pain. It only occurs when I run and in that time it is only when I am running slowly or warming up. Once I am into a workout is usually gets better."
It is always of the utmost importance that we are clear and detailed when describing an injury. Communication is key.
Runners also must communicate with their coach. If I show up to a workout feeling lethargic or over trained I need to relate this to my coach so he can alter my workout accordingly. In university I was not necessarily the best communicator. Countless times I ran workouts and completed mileage when I was over trained with no recovery. I knew my body and mind were exhausted but I was unable to relate this to my coach. The result was burnout and a dislike of competitive training. For a coaching relationship to be effective there needs to be free flowing communication, both positive and negative, between the athlete and the coach. A coach must be able to tell an athlete when to suck it up and make their times and an athlete needs to be able to effectively tell the coach when they are not able to make times due to other circumstances. This is a very difficult balance to maintain, though if it is successful great results will follow.

It is important to get our point across to the listener but it is also important for the person hearing the message to accept it. We must also be receptive communicators. If I tell my coach that I am not into the workout he has to listen and acknowledge that information. For me to effectively communicate with another individual I have to know that they are hearing my message. In the same regard, I need to clarify that I understand their response.

Work has helped me with communication, and receptive communication specifically, a great deal. When I see a patient they are often at the lowest time of their life. They are scared, confused, sick, in pain, and are usually very upset after getting a very bad prognosis. When these people tell me their goals what I may hear is something totally different then what they actually meant. At the end of an assessment I always tell them what I understand their goal to be. If I was listening well we will both agree on the goal. By now I am usually pretty good at getting it right but every once and a while I fuck everything up and get some harsh feedback. How does this relate to running and life in general?
When communicating with others ensure the message is conveyed effectively and then get the other person to repeat it back to you. You may be surprised what you hear!

I suppose the most important thing about communication is actually doing it. It is a sign of respect and decency when we openly communicate with those who are important in our lives. It is those people, the ones who matter the most, who are often the most difficult to speak with honestly. The fear of hurting someone else's feelings or jeopardizing a friendship may influence how we approach a potentially difficult subject. Learning how to talk with someone without fucking up something that was previously good is a skill we all can work on, whether with a coach, friend or family.

We communicate in many more ways then with words, body language often says more then anything. But I think I have been preachy enough for one blog so I will save body language and mixed messages for another day.

Today was Tempo Tuesday and I had a great 45 minute hard session in Stanley Park and on the Seawall. Yesterday I was very tired and sluggish so I was very happy to have a good run today. I also really wanted to have a good swim tonight but dental work kept me out of the pool.

Happy Training!

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